From Academic Kids

Typical crows and allies
Scientific classification
Genus: Corvus

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Crow on a branch, Maruyama Kyo (1733-1795)

The true crows are in the genus Corvus; they are large Passerine birds. As a group they show remarkable examples of intelligence; it would not be at all an exaggeration to characterize crows as being to birds what higher primates (including humans) are to mammals. Crows have been noted to have some type of funeral, and ravens often score very highly on intelligence tests. Crows in the northwestern US (a blend of Corvus brachyrhynchos and Corvus caurinus) show modest linguistic capabilities and the ability to relay information over great distances, live in complex, hierarchic societies involving hundreds of individuals with various "occupations", and have an intense rivalry with the area's less socially-advanced ravens. One species, the New Caledonian Crow, has recently been intensively studied because of its ability to manufacture and use its own tools in the day-to-day search for food.

All temperate continents (except, surprisingly, South America) and several offshore and oceanic islands (including Hawaii) have representatives of the 40 or so members of this genus.

Crows appear to have evolved in central Asia and radiated out into North America (including Mexico), Africa, Europe, and Australia.

They range in size from the relatively small pigeon-sized jackdaws (Eurasian and Daurian) to the Common Raven of the Palearctic region and Thick-billed Raven of the highlands of Ethiopia.

Crows, and especially ravens, often feature in legends or mythology as portents or harbingers or doom ( or death, because of their dark plumage, unnerving calls, and tendency to eat carrion, that causes them to circle above scenes of death such as battles.

Australian species:

North American species:

African species:

North African & Asia Minor species:

European species:

Asian species:

The islands between Southeast Asia and Australia have several species, as do the West Indies off the south east coast of the North American continent. A few Pacific islands (including Hawaii) have representative species also.

For more information regarding crows, see the individual species.

For more information regarding relatives of the crows, such as magpies and jays, see Corvidae.


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